BOISE, Idaho — The lights are on, the closed signs are flipped and the doors to some restaurants across the Treasure Valley are back open, but not just for takeout, for dine-in customers.
So, how has business been going?
“A little bit better than expected, but definitely not what it used to be,” said Owner of Epi’s Basque Restaurant in Meridian, Erik Mcfarland.
Epi’s opened its doors to dine-in customers on Tuesday, just days after Gov. Brad Little announced Idaho could move to stage two of his plan to reopen the state.
“We had to eliminate a couple of tables and some seats in order to accommodate and make it feel like everybody had some nice space around them,” Mcfarland said.
He made the decision after getting feedback from both his staff and customers.
“What we found out was that people want to feel normal and want things to go back to normal and I think realistically that may take a little time for that to happen, so we've taken extra precautions just like everybody else,” Mcfarland said.
Like Epi's, downtown Boise's Firenza Pizza has also made changes since reopening.
“Instead of having six feet between tables, I’m closer to eight feet,” said Firenza Pizza owner Duane Paris.
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He's also cut the number of available seats in the restaurant in half, but despite the changes, Paris adds business has been slow.
“I was hoping this week would be a little better than last week,” Paris said. “Our deliveries are starting to pick up but I mean our sales have dropped off dramatically, previously they're about 25 percent of what they were before COVID and now it's probably dropped down another 10 percent, it's tough times.”
On Friday morning, Western Collective, a brewery, opened its doors to dine-in customers just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
“Today’s been interesting,” Western Collective owner Cary Prewitt said. “Last weekend when everything came out and restaurants were allowed to reopen in the state of Idaho, a lot of wineries reopened as food manufacturers and we decided to take advantage of that as well.”
He says the pandemic forced them to get creative. They created new beers, started canning their products and marketing to grocery stores, and while they'll continue to do that, customers can now enjoy their products from home and inside their establishment.
“All of our servers are wearing masks, we're doing table service only so you come, you wait by the front door and you get seated at a table and then you get table service, which is a first for us because it's been order at the bar prior,” Prewitt said.
“It feels really good to be back at it and we certainly appreciate this community,” Mcfarland said.
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